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The case for hope…

Want to change the world? Sponsor a child!

Even to me, a child sponsorship advocate, that sounds too petty of an answer. In my work as an activist and advocate, a lot of our answers *seem* pat and petty at times. But is “anything” really better than “nothing?”

Yes and no.(insert possibility of long and tedious rabbit trail about good and bad relief and development strategies and stories.) 

In the case of child sponsorship, however, the answer is emphatically YES! Just read the article out of Christianity Today about recent findings of the first ever review of the effects and outcomes of child sponsorship. According to , the author, the initial study of sponsorship effects in Uganda was nothing short of amazing.

You could beat this data senseless, and it was incapable of showing anything other than extremely large and statistically significant impacts on educational outcomes for sponsored children.

The researchers then expanded the study and gain a broader understanding of the impact of world-wide sponsorship,

The results in our other five countries confirm the positive impact of Compassion’s child-sponsorship program in Uganda. In all six countries, we find that sponsorship results in better educational outcomes for children. Overall, sponsorship makes children 27 to 40 percent more likely to complete secondary school, and 50 to 80 percent more likely to complete a university education. Child sponsorship also appears to be the great equalizer in education: In areas where outcomes are worse, such as sub-Saharan Africa, impacts are bigger. In countries where existing outcomes aren’t as bad, like in India and the Philippines, impacts are significant but smaller. In countries where existing outcomes are higher among boys, the impact on girls is larger; in countries where the existing educational outcomes are higher for girls, the impact on boys is larger. We even find some evidence for spillover effects on the unsponsored younger siblings of sponsored children.

This is huge. But what does it have to do with HOPE? Poverty locks a child up in a cage of despair and hopelessness. Why try? What can possibly change? Where generation after generation of families living in extreme poverty live and exist, there is little to no hope of anything different in the foreseeable future. But throw a development organization like Compassion or any of the other reputable ones into the mix and the psychological landscape changes drastically. Hope rises, tentatively, but steadily.

We carried out three studies—in Bolivia, Kenya, and Indonesia—with 1,320 children. The sample included sponsored children, their unsponsored siblings, and other unsponsored children from the same communities. In each of the studies, we found that sponsored children consistently had significantly higher expectations for their own schooling than unsponsored children, even when controlling for family and other factors. They also generally had higher expectations for adult employment. (Years later, a disproportionate number of Kenyan kids still wanted to be pilots.) Many of these findings came close to mirroring the adult differences we measured between formerly sponsored children and nonsponsored children.

photo credit: Compassion International

What does HOPE look like in these communities defined by extreme poverty? 

1. Poverty leaves no room for questions. Hope gives the freedom to question and ponder something other, something better.

2. Poverty determines generational destinies. Hope changes generational destinies.

3. Poverty holds back. Hope gives wings and pushes ever forward.

When you sponsor a child with Compassion, you are extending that child HOPE, a rare and powerful gift in the midst of poverty. You are enabling them to question, dream, and move towards a future of HOPE… hopeful education, hopeful employment, hopeful destinies. And this, this my friends is worth every penny!

I challenge you to GIVE HOPE by joining me in sponsoring a child through Compassion this month! Let’s just say this is an expense you will never regret.

I encourage you to read the entire article online. It is fascinating and extremely exciting!

The puzzle pieces are beginning to fall into place: the patient nurturing of self-worth, self-expectations, dreams, and aspirations may be a critical part of helping children escape poverty.


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